By Dr. Nagi Giumma Baraka
I was a member of the Executive council at the National Transitional Council (NTC) during the uprising and liberation of Libya. To get a clearer picture of what the Libyan people are facing in the months to come, I will explain this further and how these issues can be resolved in the short term. The uprising by young men and women in Libya inspired all the people who wanted freedom and wanted to live in a democratic society.
Libya was demoralised by Gaddafi’s regime for over 42 years of oppression and injustice. Instead of distributing Libya’s wealth, or using it to build Libya, he gave the nation’s wealth to his family, friends and those close to him to spend on anything and everything.
The other most important issue is that during his regime Libya had a one man show for everything who denied the people experience, freedom to speak, to own properties, cars and businesses. He denied them even enjoying life with their wives and children. He destroyed the social values of Libyan society and also imposed the most brutal and unqualified and corrupt people to govern and demoralise the public in many ways.
For these reasons and many others, the 17th February uprising started everywhere in Libya and ended with the death of Gaddafi and one of his brutal sons, Muatassim, the capture of his other son, Seif, and many of his very close people. Many others escaped but I am sure that one day they will all be tried for their actions against Libya by a fair system of justice and implementation of Libyan law.
Challenges Libya Faces Today:
Security and national stability are the paramount concern to Libya and the international community. There are more than 200,000 freedom fighters registered by now and there are many weapons circulating amongst them and the general public. For those reasons no one is obeying the law and the country is lawless for the time being.
The second point is the absence of a strong police force. This will be difficult to address unless all weapons are taken from the public and freedom fighters. This can be done through many different ways (incentives, licences or join army or police and keep your weapon) plus rehabilitation programmes for freedom fighters and people affected by the uprising.
There is lack of money and absence of foreign companies to complete or start projects. The money issue is a major problem for Libya, is 100% controlled from outside of Libya, and will be used to twist the arm of the Libyan people, the NTC and government. This will enable foreign countries to dictate what they want from Libya.
I know Libya will not bow down to those who want to use this against them. This happened in July last year when there was a severe shortage of petrol to run the electricity in the eastern part of Libya. The Italians tried to use these strategies as well as the French, but they were faced with furious opposition from all the executive committees, Libyan people and the NTC and actually been told......?
The other point is the interference of different countries in the affairs of Libya who are trying to support one group against the other. Qatar did an excellent job to help Libya and we benefited from their help to reach where we are, but recently the Qataris have started to deviate and are very clearly supporting the Islamic brotherhood and even went further during the revolution by giving them weapons and they are the only group to get much of it.
Many incidents happened and the Qataris were trying to put pressure on NTC to accept, but they faced furious opposition by many executive committee and also now from the public. These practices should not happen again or practiced by any other country or group of countries that may try to exercise this kind of behaviour on Libyans, NTC or the government
The most important one is the weakness of the NTC and the government in communicating with the public and the world.
It is very obvious to everyone that the NTC is very weak due to the lack of experience of its members and many of them. In fact, the majority of them have no political experience whatsoever and also have no experience in dealing with the public and few held any executive positions before.
Some of these officials have never been in leadership positions, e.g. the Minister of Health, the Interior Minister, the Defence Minister and the Foreign Minister. Many came from abroad and knew only little about Libya and how much it had changed over the past 42 years.
The absence of political advisers is causing a lot of mistakes to be made and they are unable to prioritise things and act swiftly e.g., Al-Shajara Square protests in Benghazi, then Tripoli and now every where. If there were a good political analyst who could see through this problem, this could have been contained earlier and many solutions adopted.
The government is failing badly to communicate with the people and very rarely do they come out and talk. Most are technocrats and not politicians. They are very good administrators but not analysts. They can describe every thing but to analyse and execute is not their way of sorting problems. They need to have political advisors as well as strategists to plan short and long-term solutions.
Until now those people are absent and very few are around and none will take the risk and contact the government. They also have started building a shield around them and preventing people from getting close to them. Those people are very well known and are politicians and strategists and served Libya in many different ways.
These challenges are very concerning to everyone and without trying to sort them out, Libya will be having a hard time and the country may slip into a very narrow alleyway, with no exit. It is very unlikely to become Somalia or Iraq but it doesn’t feel that it’s that far away. It is time to work very hard and get advisors who are politicians, strategists and thinkers to help out.
The results may take 2-3 months but will be published to public and will be transparent. No need to be shy to ask for help and no need to be shy to use Libyans and non Libyans to help in this situation. Closing doors and not engaging with experts, public and thinkers, may lead to a disaster which is not far way, if NTC and the government move very fast and fast, then some goals may be achieved before next election.
Libyan people are very tolerant and they will be patient for the time being but when you cannot have medical treatment in Libya, electricity cut off every day, communication with the rest of the world is below standards. Different groups hijack the media, absence of government and not talking to people and shortfall of NTC members due to inexperience.
The justice ministry is ineffective and there is no military or strong police. Many thieves and thugs got their hands on weapons and people do not feel safe in there own home and country. So they will come out and this has already started but it is not too late to contain it.
The NTC and government are swimming against the current but this can be corrected if the right people are leading in the right position with the help of the technocrats. Never too late and the February 17 revolution will prevail and Libyans will taste freedom over many years to come.
Libya will be free and will rise up against all odds and Libyans will govern Libya.
(Dr. Nagi Giumma Baraka is a former Minister of Health at the National Transitional Council until the current interim was formed in Libya. He contributed this article to The Tripoli Post.)